November 10, 2022 - by

Seminoles Brave Hurricane Nicole; Travel To Play At UCF

ORLANDO, Fla. – It would be fair to say that Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton has a tremendous amount of respect for Mother Nature. 

Hamilton and his teams have endured their share of severe weather during his career.  From tornadoes while he was the head coach at Oklahoma State, to snow in the northeastern part of the country when he was the head coach at Miami in the Big East, to hurricanes throughout his tenure as the head coach at Florida State, Hamilton has had to adjust travel plans and game schedules throughout his head coaching career because of the wrath of Mother Nature.

When Hurricane Nicole formed in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week, Hamilton took more than a passing glace at the Weather Channel.  He’s been through enough weather events in the last 30 years to know that a hurricane making landfall in November is rare.  He also recognized the early track of Nicole had it heading for the east coast of Florida, and ultimately through the city of Orlando. 

Orlando.  The home of the UCF Knights and Florida State’s upcoming opponent and site of Friday night’s game between the two teams. 

As Nicole churned, and ultimately made landfall at the northwestern tip of the Bahamas, Hamilton was coming up with two plans: one for getting his team safely to Orlando and one for battling the Knights on the court.  

He set forth his first plan by moving up Florida State’s travel itinerary by one day, getting his team to the city before the storm crossed the state.

He and his staff then continued to prepare for the game against UCF.

“During these times, you have to work through it, and just not let it bother you at all,” said Hamilton.  “The main thing for us to do is to defeat the enemy that you are looking at.  We have bigger issues than to worry about the travel plans or the weather.  The game is played inside, we are going to have lights and officials.  They have to make the same adjustments we have to make, except they are not travelling. 

“It’s (the weather) not something that I’m overly concerned about.  We’ve got to focus on who we are and how we go out and represent ourselves.”

The Seminoles have represented themselves quite well against UCF since the beginning of the series in 1980, having won 11 of the 12 games played in the series.  The Knights, though, are the team that enters the contest on a winning streak, as UCF defeated Florida State on the Seminoles’ home court the last time the two teams met in 2020.

UCF was led on that December night in the Tucker Center by a number of players, including Darin Green, Jr., who scored 20 points for the Knights.  He was one of three players who scored 20 or more points as UCF earned an 86-74 win, breaking a 41-game home winning streak for the Seminoles.  Florida State’s winning streak at the Tucker Center, was the second longest in the nation at the time of the game.

Green, who played for three seasons at UCF, will wear the Garnet and Gold of the Seminoles on Friday night as a first-year member of the Hamilton’s team.  He enters Friday’s game with 957 career points and needs just 43 to reach the coveted 1,000 point mark for his career. 

Hamilton is happy that Green chose to bring his shooting talents and scoring totals to Florida State.  Green averages 11.5 points per game during his 83-game career at UCF and Florida State. 

“Darin is an outstanding shooter; very rarely is he off,” said Hamilton.  “We are very confident in him, and we think he is going to have a good year for us.  Darin is a very mature youngster.  He knows what he is coming back to.  Obviously he wants to play well in every game.  He’s going to be back in front of their crowd, but I don’t think that is going to bother him.  As long as we improve on our execution, he’s going to be fine.”

Hamilton wants to see an overall improvement by his team as they play their second game of the season. 

“It was very uncharacteristic for us to not be nearly as aggressive as we normally have been, offensively or defensively,” said Hamilton of Florida State’s opening night performance.  “We have some adjustments we are making with this team.  We are learning about them; they are learning about each other.  Hopefully this will be a game where we can solve some of the things and be a lot better than we were the other night.

“What we have to do is be who we are and be consistent with that.”

For Hamilton, consistency is a characteristic he is known for both on and off of the basketball court. 

It’s that consistency that has allowed his teams to weather any type of storm that comes their way – whether it be a tornado, a blizzard, an early November hurricane, or a tough shooting night. 

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